Following a series of questionable moves by Alex Murdaugh’s “bulldog” defense attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin filed a shocking motion on Wednesday asking the court to dismiss the Gloria Satterfield lawsuit.
Harpootlian and Griffin, who are now representing the disgraced attorney in multiple criminal cases and lawsuits, argued in a motion to dismiss the suit that Gloria Satterfield’s sons have been “fully compensated for their alleged losses,” therefore Alex Murdaugh — who was allegedly the ringleader in the scheme — should not have to pay any money back.
For a reminder, Satterfield’s sons have settled with five parties connected to the botched wrongful death settlement since their attorneys filed a lawsuit in September. Alex Murdaugh is the only remaining party in that case.
On September 15, Bland and Richter filed a lawsuit on the Satterfield family’s behalf against Murdaugh, Fleming and others involved in the 2018 settlement. Other defendants included Fleming’s previous law firm, Chad Westendorf (the banker listed as a representative of Satterfield’s estate), and Palmetto State Bank (the financial institution where Westendorf worked).
In the Satterfield case, Murdaugh and others are accused of making off with millions of dollars from a wrongful death settlement. Murdaugh’s latest charges stem from an investigation by South Carolina attorneys Eric Bland and Ronald Richter — who uncovered a shocking paper trail showing how Alex Murdaugh allegedly stole $3.6 million from Satterfield’s settlement.
Palmetto State Bank is the fifth potentially liable party to have settled or resolved differences with the Satterfield family since Bland and Richter filed their lawsuit. The two attorneys have recovered more than $6.5 million in total for the Satterfield family, Bland told FITSNews.
After Satterfield died, Murdaugh recruited his best friend Cory Fleming to sue him on behalf of her estate – and convinced Gloria’s sons to sign over their personal representative rights to Westendorf so that Fleming wouldn’t be legally obligated to tell the Satterfield family what was going on with the settlement, according to Bland.
Two months after the Bland and Richter filed their lawsuit, Harpootlian and Griffin filed a motion that claims Alex Murdaugh “is entitled to a credit for the more than $6 million paid by all other settling tortfeasors.”
Bland told FITSNews he was shocked and disgusted by the motion.
“The reality of the situation is it just goes to show how despicable he is in that he’s going to victimize my clients again,” Bland said. “Alex is saying ‘Yes, I stole money from you. I’m not going to admit it, I’m a coward. I’m going to make you then litigate against me for two years to prove what the obvious already is.'”
The latest move by the Murdaugh camp is particularly brazen because Alex Murdaugh confessed judgment in lawsuits recently filed by his former law partner John E. Parker and his brother Randy Murdaugh, FITSNews exclusively reported. This would essentially prioritize Alex’s debt to Randy ahead of a long line of alleged victims currently suing the man whose wife and son were murdered in June.
Alex Murdaugh is facing at least six lawsuits — two for both the 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach, two for millions of dollars misappropriated/ stolen funds dating back to 2015 and two for unpaid debt. Murdaugh has only confessed judgment in Randy Murdaugh and John E. Parker’s cases, according to online court records.
The “confession of judgment” was signed just hours after attorney Mark Tinsley, who is representing the Beach family, presented his arguments for a temporary injunction over Alex Murdaugh’s assets and to appoint two outside parties — attorney John T. Lay Jr. and former U.S. attorney Peter M. McCoy Jr. — to have control over Alex and Buster Murdaugh’s assets, which is known as a “receivership” in court.
Earlier this month, Judge Daniel Hall ordered an asset-freezing injunction and appointed the receivers to manage and recover funds that could pay alleged victims currently suing Murdaugh.
Now that attorney John T. Lay Jr. and former U.S. attorney Peter M. McCoy Jr. have control over Alex and Buster Murdaugh’s assets, they have the power to sue for the recovery of those assets as well.
Alex Murdaugh has been in jail for more than a month now. Last week, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman denied his bond for the second time.
Bland told FITSNews that Harpootlian and Griffin’s latest move shows that “they’re clearly not looking at the optics here.
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“What they’re now doing is further cementing his dastardly conduct and what the public thinks about him by saying, ‘If I took the money, I don’t have to repay it because somebody else did,” Bland said. “And (Alex is saying) ‘I’m going to force the victims to sue me instead of admitting that I stole their money. If they would have loaned it to me, I would have admitted it and given them a judgment, but because I stole it, I’m not going to give it back and I’m going to force him to sue me for the next two years.”
Bland said the latest move indicates battle lines have been clearly drawn between the two parties.
“I can’t wait,” Bland told FITSNews. “I can’t wait to deal with Murdaugh, Harpootlian and Griffin over the next two years.”
Bland was shellshocked by the motion and said chances were very slim of a judge approving it. He was puzzled why Harpootlian and Griffin — two previously respected defense attorneys — would stick their necks out for Alex Murdaugh.
“I just don’t get why Harpootlian and Jim Griffin… why they would spend the last part of their careers representing Alex Murdaugh,” Bland said. “It’s just another action that you’re scratching your head and saying ‘is there a master strategy here? Or are you just winging it?'”
Harpootlian and Griffin were hired to defend Paul Murdaugh in the boat crash in either March or April 2019, which would be soon after Alex transferred a large amount of the settlement money to his own account, according to prosecutors.
To recap, in February 2019, a highly intoxicated Paul Murdaugh was allegedly driving his father’s boat when Mallory Beach was killed in a horrific crash near Parris Island, South Carolina. At the time of Paul Murdaugh’s death in June 2021, he faced three felony boating under the influence charges in that crash.
The receivers that are now going through Alex’s accounts will be able to find out whether or not Griffin and Harpootlian were paid in fees from the Satterfield settlement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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